Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences
of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The Journal of Literary History and Theory
Peer-reviewed Academic Journal

The old well forgotten, or Nothing is new under the moon

Dushenko K. V.


The article examines the origin of two related maxims: «There is nothing new except what has been forgotten» and «There is nothing new under the moon». The Russian form of the first maxim («The new is the old well forgotten») belongs, probably, to the publicist N.V. Shelgunov. Initially, the first maxim appeared in England and France, and for a long time existed in two versions. The earliest of them (c. 1820) was usually attributed to Rose Bertin, the milliner of Marie Antoinette. The second («There is nothing new but what it has been old») is a quote from Chaucer’s «Canterbury Tales» in Walter Scott’s version («The Adventures of Nigell», 1822). In Germanyand Russia, only the first, «Bertin’s version» was in circulation. One of the probable sources of Karamzin’s family sayings «Nothing is new under the moon» was the maxim «Il n’y a rien de nouveau sous la Lune», which appeared at the end of the 17 th century in the novel «Turkish Spy» by Giovanni Paolo Marana.


proverbs; family sayings; fashion; Rosa Bertin; G. Chaucer; Walter Scott; N. Karamzin; N.V. Shelgunov; G.P. Marana; A. Delvig.

DOI: 10/31249/litzhur/2021.51.06

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